Hey, still not dead, just been working a lot because christmas sucks haha.
I was definitely looking forward to playing this, I’d been waiting for it to go on sale for under a tenner since I got the first game for a couple of quid and it is an indie game I guess so that’s a fair price in my opinion. But the first is a lot of game for not a lot of money, the story, characters and game are really great and well done, so I was looking forward to this. Needless to say I was a little bit hyped. These niche little management sims are sort of my jam between big sprawling rpgs and stuff add in turned based xcom turned based strategy combat and I’m hooked.
I actually only wanted to play the first because I saw someone playing the second one and it looked right up my alley and it was.
The first game is pretty much perfect and the second adds in xcom style turned based combat and your cops have stats that are important in regular call outs and these new tactical missions where you actually control the cops as they stealth or blast their way to catching criminals.
Yeah well I already said ‘but’ but there are more buts coming because this game is great but I can’t help feeling like it just has more content for the sake of content. In the first game it felt like it was constantly evolving, you never felt like you were doing the same thing over and over, every day the gameplay evolved in some way. One minute you’re in an election and have to manage shifts so people work well together, the next you’re tracking a serial killer, or taking down a crime family but that never really happens in the second game.
Yeah sure you can take down crime families but there are only like three and it feels like it’s been really dumbed down but on the bright side you actually get to do a tactical mission to capture the gang’s leader which is really fun and satisfying. Another great change which is actually something I said in the first game review is that they added a description on the polaroids in the investigation missions so now you know what the fuck is going on in each slide and don’t just have to just guess what the expressionist art is trying to depict. It just tells you, so I didn’t need a guide for any of the cases in this game because I could actually tell what the pictures were showing me and put them in the right order. Just a little thing but it’s such an improvement, when you can spend ages trying to tell if a person is getting out of or getting into a car in a badly drawn still image.
But I dunno, the investigations don’t seem as interesting for some reason, they’re just kind of annoying and you don’t have detectives in this game so you have to commit officers from your main force to investigate them which is just dumb. Do small town sheriffs not have detectives? I guess not.
Oh yeah forgot to even talk about this game, it’s basically a direct sequel to the previous game where Jack Boyd is in hiding as he’s being used as a scapegoat for a lot of crimes for some reason. It’s kind of thin honestly because it’s never really explained how all this happened, it’s kept really vague because there’s no way for the game to know what you actually did in the previous game because it doesn’t follow on from your save file, it’s not that type of game with branching story choices. Which just begs the question why they didn’t just go for a new character, it’s probably because they wanted to keep John St.John (Duke Nukem) as their main voiced character. Which is understandable. But there’s no reason they couldn’t have worked him in just not as the main character.
So in terms of story you just need to accept that Jack Boyd has a cool mullet and a beard and is now wanted for some reason and he has to pay this random guy who may have been in the last game but I can’t remember or he’ll rat you out to the feds. And you’re hiding out in this little mountain town that I hoped would be a lot like twin peaks but kind of wasn’t at all but I’ll get into that later on. So of course you get back into basically doing criminal shit and favours to make money to pay this guy off and this is kind of where you run into the first flaw of the game. Money, you don’t really need it. In the first game the goal was to make half a million so in that the reason you got money was just because you were saving for retirement but *spoilers* it doesn’t even matter at the end anyway.
But you could also spend money on various services in game that were pretty useful like setting up a hit on a cop that was going to turn on you or something like that. But in this game you only need money to pay off this guy and buy more equipment.
And here’s where you get into my second gripe, the equipment, and my complaint with this is sort of two fold, it’s not interesting equipping your officers at the start of each day, it’s just annoying and time consuming, yeah there’s an auto-assign but it’s retarded and it never equips them with the stuff I want. The second reason this is annoying is because every call can be solved by an item. It’s just the instant win button, you can solve most cases with the tazer or the shocker/pepper spray/baton. They’re just instant win buttons and all the thought is basically taken out of the calls. In the previous game you really needed to think about how to handle the situation. In this you don’t even have to read the description you just click ‘use baton’ and the case is done. You could basically speed run this game with this.
On top of this your officers have skills and some of the options are skill related and they’re basically instant wins too, so if your officers have high negotiation they can end the call with a command, or if they’re high stealth they can sneak it and so on and so on. So all that really happens at the end is all your cops become jack of all trades and can just do everything and the difficulty just artificially spikes.
You see you need a certain level of professionalism which is like their xp to complete a mission and by the end of the game every mission is just over 2k professionalism nomatter what it is. Like you’ll need the same level of professionalism to take down a bank robbery as you’ll need to catch a guy that pinches a waitresses ass. It’s dumb, It’s not a realistic difficulty curve.
Another thing I found annoying was the crank calls were too subtle in this game and the humor is such that the real calls sounded like cranks some time. In the previous game you get some calls that are fake, just some idiot with a false alarm like in real life and you have to avoid them otherwise you can’t use those officers for a real case until they come back. Which you know isn’t how police work because they have radios and can go to calls if they’re in the vicinity. Imagine if cops had to go back to the station every time to pick up a new call. That would be retarded. They haven’t had to do that since the invention of the radio.
But in the last game the crank calls were pretty obvious and eventually you could spot them and avoid them rather easily but in this game there’s almost no way to tell them apart. I think it’s a lot to do with how wacky they’re trying to make the setting for this game.
I thought this game would reference twin peaks what with it’s setting in a kooky little mountain town or maybe it’s fargo but I’ve never seen that movie. But it’s not really like twin peaks at all, there are like weird cultists who worship strange forest gods but that’s always off to the side, it’s not really that relevant to the main plot, it doesn’t really go anywhere. The main ‘villain’ if you can call him that is just this retired military colonel, but he’s not really a villain as much as he’s just someone in your way, kind of, that goes for pretty much every ‘villain’ in this game. I dunno the characters in this game just felt a little flat and generic and the story doesn’t do much with them, they don’t have arcs or move on from the story of the first game as much as they just wallow it. The story almost just feels like an add on or a dlc despite how much it clearly improves upon the game.
But for all it’s improvements and addons some are just irritating like managing each cops inventory and there’s this fucking irritating part where the cook for the station goes on her honeymoon and you have to pick food for everyone matching their specific requirements and it’s just annoying. There’s nothing fun or interesting about picking what food they eat and you can lose their respect if you choose food they don’t like, it’s not a fun gameplay addition, it’s just an annoying hurdle to waste your time. There’s a line between fun and challenging and annoying time wasting.
That’s something I forgot to mention, there’s a respect system in this game where basically if you get the cops to like you they dress properly and they’ll listen to you. If they don’t respect you they dress sloppily, they refuse to work consecutive days and they out right do whatever the hell they want on tactical missions so for the love of fuck don’t ever use them for that. They also won’t go out on calls if you send them with another cop that doesn’t respect you. So getting their respect is really important.
This sounds interesting but they can lose respect for you for the most asinine reasons like you don’t let them take off work to scratch their balls. I had this one quit because I hired a masseuse for the station which I thought everyone would like but this guy was like “that masseuse touched my cock, I didn’t know this station was home to rampant faggotry” or something nuts like that and he just fucking quit. How was I supposed to foresee that outcome?? How would I ever know that was a possibility? It’s just fucking bullshit there solely to trip you up. The game is kind of full of moments like that, situations that happen that you would need fucking psychic powers to predict and just becomes frustrating.
I really liked the gameplay though, I’m a big fan of xcom and it really steps up in that respect. The combat and the guns feel nice(feel might not be the right word since I’m not handling them, they sound good), although you only get to use their revolvers but I like how they work. Basically they’re one shot kills but you can choose whether to hit them in the hand and try to disarm them so you can arrest them, shoot them in the head and kill them, in the leg and hobble them, or as I always go centre mass, because that downs them but it takes them a while to die so if you finish the stage before their life timer runs out they live. The game rewards you for suspects you take alive, so you’re encouraged to and I prefer to go quiet and use batons and tazers to stun and cuff them and then shoot to wound them and take them alive. But you can just literally stab them all to death which is quicker and easier but feels less immersive to me having cops going Sam fischer on a guy and it lowers your score which is in can ring pulls (I guess bottlecaps would’ve been derivative) and you trade these pulls for more cops and equipment.
Because the premise of the game is basically you’re working for the real sheriff who’s really inexperienced and she is trading equipment and men for how well you perform.
Overall the gameplay is good, I would’ve liked it to be a little more like xcom where you can unlock more equipment instead of just skills and perks and the stealth is a little bare bones, if one guy sees you that’s pretty much done for the stealth portion, now every enemy knows where you are haha. Also weirdly when you play xcom there are basically infinite tactical missions you can do randomly generated to a point where it gets sort of tedious but in this game there feels like there aren’t enough. Because they’re really fun and tense and brutal because you can’t save scum so you’re basically permanently on iron man mode unless you want to redo the whole day because these missions usually pop up at the end of the day. And your cops aren’t armoured, they have the same health as the enemies so one shot and you’re done, if it’s in the leg you can’t move, in the hand you can’t shoot, centre mass and you’re bleeding out, headshot and it’s goodnight. And on top of that if they’re injured in the mission they’ll be out of commission for a couple of days. And for some reason when one of your cops is shot there’s no like medic mechanic, not one of your cops knows first aid, so that person just has to limp away and hide and bleed until the end of the match. So it’s tense, but there aren’t really enough of them and there’s this one later on that almost made me fucking rage quit.
Basically I think it’s the second to last tactical mission in the game, you had to take down this whole camp of guys without being spotted once, because if you got spotted it was an instant fail state and you had to start right from the beginning. And once you’ve chosen the guys to go on the mission you can’t change them unless you want to restart the day. Just stuff like that is really annoying and I don’t see why the mission couldn’t have just carried on or you could get another chance of taking down the person who saw you before they raise the alarm. Bare in mind all my guys are like max rank with top stealth and stuff, but no if they get spotted or someone finds a body it’s done and I don’t think you can hide bodies, despite the fact there’s a perk where you can pick up injured people and carry them. So why can’t they move bodies or hide them?
Overall all these missions are pretty great which makes it sting even more that the last mission is this really boring easy tower defence mission. I mean the last mission in the first game was more interesting and you didn’t even get to play it, you could only play it out in your imagination as you set it up.
Also I would’ve liked more control over planning the raids like the assault in the first game. You could decide what men to put where, in this game you can only decide who to place you can’t decide where to place them. You just gather intel and fill slots, there’s little to no strategy in planning the assaults. But the level design, I just feel like they could’ve done more with it, there could’ve been more going on with the story in these missions. They could’ve been more dynamic and worked into the plot like you find a weird altar with human sacrifices or you stumble upon a conspiracy or another serial killer.
It gets into my whole feeling towards this game, it feels shorter and less developed than the first despite having more content. It’s like they put more effort into nuts and bolts gameplay than the story and the world than they did in the first. The ending left me just totally cold, zero emotional resonance, it was just kind of meh and it didn’t fit and I constantly felt like I was on the outside of the story. It also didn’t really resolve what happened with Jack’s wife in the first game which really pissed me off. It just feels unfinished and like they were trying to be mysterious or ambiguous with the plot but it just didn’t suck me in enough for me to give a shit. They don’t do much with the pagan cults and forest spirits, I really thought that was going to be core to the plot like twin peaks but it’s really not, it’s just a fun side thing which is fine. I just wanted a deeper, weirder experience. I feel like this game kind of played it safe and just added gameplay but took no real risks with the story or world building.
Also I’m lead to believe there was a good ending and a bad ending which I fucking hate in games. I much preferred the ending of the first where it wasn’t a moral choice as much as it was between two people. You chose whoever you thought would fuck you over the least but *spoilers* they both fuck you over haha.
What bugs me is this game is so niche I can’t even really find accurate guides or people talking about the endings. I’m gonna have to dig to even find the good ending. Which I think I read somewhere you can only get if you do zero illegal shit which I’m not sure is even possible or what this game even counts as illegal stuff because this game is never really black and white with it’s moral choices. I can’t see how you’d make any money in this game without cutting corners and committing crimes, I made most of my money selling drugs and evidence. In the previous game you actually had a salary that I don’t think you get in this game so I don’t see how else you’re going to get the money in time to pay for the silence of the asshole leaning on you. I mean that’s the justification for taking the short cuts in the first place. The reason you do illegal stuff in the first game is because it makes you money which you need for retirement but also because if you don’t and you piss off the mafia they’ll just kill you.
But in this game if it wasn’t for the blackmailer you could probably just not be a dirty cop haha. But I guess him turning you over to the feds is the equivalence in this game for the mob killing you.
Ok a lot of waffling there, I really liked the game, I had a lot of fun with it. I really liked the new combat system but I feel they kind of slipped up on a lot of things they did right in the first game. So in all honesty, I think as a whole I preferred the first game. But maybe it’s because I didn’t expect much from the first game and I had higher expectations from the sequel.
Minor niggles I thought the writing was verbose to the point of hair pulling. Characters in this game will take ten times the amount of words to say something as is necessary. Were the writers in this game paid by the word? I mean even the text is too long, you get these fucking text crawls, short essays that are small even to read on a big screen tv and all they’re basically saying is “I need a strong cop to move some boxes”. Why the fuck couldn’t you have just said that? Why did it take like 500 words to get to “I need cop with strong stat”. I get it’s world/character building but some of these characters are just random one offs. It just feels like a needless waste of time and an editor could have cut this down. I mean again there’s a line between interesting world building and annoying time wasting. Eventually I’m going to stop giving a shit and just scan what they’re saying to get to what they want.
I have ranted enough and despite all this bitching I would still definitely recommend it, it’s a great game, if you like xcom and mutant year zero and games like that, definitely pick it up, for the price you can’t go wrong.